(09/03/2007)

Dustin Simmons warms-up for an afternoon of skateboarding

By Bob Weaver

Skateboarding is often portrayed as an extreme sport, while some skaters consider it a hobby, it is a popular activity for 12.5 million skateboarders around the world.

Calhoun has a number of skateboarders who fall into the "more than casual" category, dedicated to the activity and often traveling to neighboring skate parks in the region and out-of-state.

Skateboarder Dustin Simmons says he likes the sport because it is different and requires a huge amount of practice to develop a reasonable skill level.

Simmons, who is 16, and started skateboarding two years ago, said "Some people pick it up quickly, others have to work at it for a long time. It took me about six months."

"We're grateful that we have been given permission to use the walking track at Wayne Underwood Field, and we really try to respect others who are using the track," he said.

Simmons said there are very few places to skate in the county that offer a challenge, and there has never been enough money to develop a place for skaters to use.

The City of Spencer has donated the use of a lot, which is being developed for skateboarding, and the Town of Clay is working on a site.

Brian Blosser does a high jump and experiences momentary levitation

Calhoun skateboarder Brian Blosser said "I started four years ago when I was 12, watching my cousins. I think it's a challenging sport, a real thrill, and it helps me relax."

While admitting some people find skateboarders annoying, "Most people are really concerned that we're going to get hurt," said Simmons. He said there was an early "sorta outlaw" image used to portray skateboarders, but "it's really just kids who enjoy a high-energy, physical activity."

He says most skaters get lots of scrapes on elbows and knees, few really receive serious injuries. "Once in a while, someone does get a fracture, but not often."

Local skaters travel to skate parks in Charleston, Rutland and Athens, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. Simmons has gone to Florida to skate.

Skateboarding is a relatively modern sport, originating as "sidewalk surfing" in the United States - particularly California - in the 1950s. A key skateboarding trick, the ollie, was developed in the late 1970s.

"We have a really great group of skateboarders in the county, who work hard and enjoy it," Simmons concluded.


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